Tech really got it handed to them this past Saturday by BYU. How bad was it? Well, for starters, both the Defense (7) and Special Teams (7) outscored the Offense (3). But make no mistake...the Team lost this one on all three phases. What's worse, it's fairly plain to see now that this current Yellow Jacket football team is not mentally tough. They can't overcome in-game adversity and make plays when they are necessary. Everything with this team seems to snowball.
As advertised, BYU and it's top-10 rushing defense came in and stifled Tech's Spread Option attack to only 117 yards (3.3 ypc) on the day...and 0-10 on 3rd down. BYU's DE Ziggy Ansah played with such quickness, our blocker were no match for him. BYU seemed to have 8 defenders shooting upfield on every play (read what I have to say about this below).
And passing? Pathetic, with the QB's going 4-12 for 40 yards with 0 TD and 1 INT. The interception, thrown by Tevin, put the game away as it led to a BYU score to put them up 31-17. Tevin missed several easy passes, including two sideline passes that were inexcsable, and held the ball too long and couldn't get the ball out of his hands. The only scoring drive on the game, which saw Vad Lee come in, was aided by 3 BYU personal fouls.
I am quite bummed that true freshman WR Anthony Autry, who was on his way to being a rising star with Tech, suffered a torn ACL (as tweeted by his brother Myles).
Aside from Isaiah Johnson's great instincts to jump the pass to the TE and take the resulting interception into the endzone for a TD...the Defense wasn't up to the task. They made a mediocre starting QB in Riley Nelson (a backup and special teamer until mid-last year) look like Steve Young, as he passed for 19-28 for 204 yards, adding another 17 yards on the ground (including a TD).
As in our other losses this year, BYU converted 9-16 on 3rd down, many with pretty gutsy and timely offensive play-calling from BYU (the shovel pass to Jamaal Williams for a TD being the prime example) when Tech seemed to have the play covered.
I might have seemed some inspired play from T.J. Barnes, especially in the 1st quarter, but as with this whole team nothing sustained or impactful.
Wow, ST just doesn't seem to get any better does it? Justin Moore misses yet another FG in the 2nd quarter that would've rewarded the Offense for a 57-yard drive and bring the score closer. On the following offensive possession, Nick Menocal violated the cardinal rule of punt-protection and let his man get inside him. That man, BYU's Kyle Van Noy, reached out and blocked Ryan Rodwell's punt and set up BYU with a short field to take the score to 21-7. It might be a good thing we didn't score many points, because everytime we kicked the ball off, we allowed an appalling 37 yards per kickoff return.
The play of the game though was turned in by kick returner Jamal Golden, who used his instincts to cut it back against the blocks set-up on the right side of the field...and run around the left side of BYU's coverage team en route to a 97-yard kickoff TD return.
SO NOW IT'S OPINION TIME...
As many of you who read this column every week know, I try to keep the analysis factually-rooted and statistically-based...but after this game I can no longer contain my frustration.
As I pointed out in a previous article dispelling the "extra time" argument, our biggest obstacle as an offense occurs when facing a team that is superior in stopping the run (no matter how much time the have to prepare). This is exactly what BYU, whose defense was rated in the top-10 in yards/rush allowed, presented to Tech's offense this past Saturday. BYU was successful by bringing its defenders up the field, committing seemingly 8 defenders (although would like to see if Matt's film study supports that assertion) where every option play had all three options covered.
SO WHY NOT PASS THE BALL? This was probably the most frustrating aspect of Saturday's game, watching us try dive over and over again on 2nd-and-9 (after it didn't work on 1st down) and tried passing the ball with BYU pinning it's ears back rushing the passer. If a defensive coach is so adamant about scheming the option...why not show him some Pistol? I have to question the gameplanning and play-calling that refuses to acknowledge the fact that when we can't out-rush a defense whose strength is rush defense...we must be able to throw the ball well enough to keep the defense from committing 8-9 guys. This MUST be a major focal point next offseason, our threat to pass must be as viable as our theat to run.
As for Tevin, this might have been his last game getting the lion's share of snaps (if not his starting spot). He'll most likely start, but he's earned himself nothing guaranteed moving forward. The quarterback is supposed to be the playmaker, and he has to be able to take it upon himself sometimes when the blocking isn't good, or the WRs are catching balls, etc. I've finally (and I've held out because I still like Tevin) succumbed to the opinion that Tevin only achieves when the offense allows Tevin to achieve...and sputters when the offense isn't giving him anything. At some point, no matter how bad your defense is, you have to be able to match scores and keep yourself in ballgames.
But honestly, this rationale isn't limited to Tevin. There is a permeating sense of no accountability on this team. When the offense fails to score, the defense can't make a stop and pick them up. The same thing goes vice-versa. This is a mental issue right now. You can't convince me that our talent isn't sufficient. We've put ourselves in positions to win against quality opponents this year. We have the talent to be a successful football team, but unlike the 2009 team, we aren't a group that rises to the challenge. We shy away from it.
Think about this...Tech needs a 3-1 finish to be bowl-eligible. Three of those games are on the road, including @Chapel Hill and @Athens. If Tech does get to 6 wins, it will feel like the most mediocre .500 record in the history of Tech athletics.
I can only hope that the 2012 season is at best salvageable, and at worst only a blip in the long and rich tradition of GT Football.